NEW ALBANY — Rod Burkett has been to many ribbon-cutting ceremonies as chief executive officer of Gardant Management Solutions. And each time, he always talks about the "wow" factor.
As visitors walked around the newest addition to the Gardant family Thursday, Hellenic Senior Living at 2632 Grant Line Road in New Albany, there was plenty of "wow" being said about the apartments and overall beauty of the building. But the real "wow" factor will occur down the road, according to Burkett.
"We are in the business of people caring for people," Burkett said. "A year from now, five, 10 years from now, you will see the real wow factor because of the thousands of lives in this region that were touched by this property and the services provided here."
The total assisted living facility, which consists of 125 apartments — both one bedroom and studio — plans to open March 5, if not sooner. It's unique in that it is for seniors who may need a little help with certain tasks, but are basically living independently. Each apartment has a kitchenette equipped with a refrigerator and microwave. Three meals a day are served in the dining area. Staff also assists with laundry and housekeeping services by requests. There will be staff on site 24 hours a day. Hellenic will also offer daily activities, have an onsite beauty and barber services, provide health monitoring and nursing assessments and will have secured exterior doors.
"This is a huge victory for New Albany and seniors," New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said. "We are thrilled."
The property on Grant Line Road where Hellenic is located was vacant for years before construction began more than one year ago. Hellenic, so far, is one-third full but will be close to one-half occupied by the time it opens in a month. It will employ 60 people and have a payroll of $1.5 million.
One Southern Indiana CEO Wendy Dant Chesser said she was excited to recognize a business that was providing people "with vital services" and one that "meets the need of the community."
"They are in the business of taking care of people," she said.
Burkett said his company only manages assisted living facilities, which he said are in big demand. He said the facilities are for people of all income levels, and added assisted living is much cheaper and puts less stress on Medicaid than a nursing home. He said it's about half the price for individuals.
There are Gardant facilities all over the state and in Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota. Currently, there are six under construction.
"We provide assisted living services to seniors with all different financial situations. It's for people who may be struggling at home, may have trouble falling or aren't ready for a nursing home," he said. "This is a safe, secure facility and they are allowed to come and go as they wish. The oversight is done with dignity, behind the scenes."
Rhonda Mullins, the administrator for the New Albany facility, introduced her team during the ribbon cutting ceremonies Thursday. She said they are all ready to open Hellenic, and are thrilled to have people come in and tour the building.
"We have been so excited to see this community [Hellenic] develop," she said. "Words just can't do it justice."